Here is what you saw on Good Day Alabama for July 1, 2014:
JEH JEH LIVE - Jeh Jeh joined us with Red Rock Tuesday. He joins us from Center Point. He discussed the Red Rock Ridge & Valley Trail System. The Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System will connect existing trails and parks connecting our communities while improving the health, economy, and quality of life for our region. For more information on the many hiking trails and future plans, visit http://www.redrocktrail.org/.
BETH K - UAB Nutritionist Dr. Beth Kitchin joined us to explain what a powerhouse of nutritional value fresh veggies pack and how to pick the tastiest of the crop! It's a great time of year for fresh produce. Let's take a look at two yummy nutritional powerhouses that reach their peak in July! Here's how to choose the tastiest of the crop!
Corn-on-the-Cob - You'll hear a lot of anti-carb dieters tell you that you shouldn't eat corn. In fact, the recent Time magazine article said that corn is a simple carbohydrate. Wrong! Corn is a complex carbohydrate – not a sugar. If you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, you should probably not overdo it because it could jack up your blood sugar but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy a fresh ear of corn. Here's what corn's got going for it - a large and filling ear of corn is only 120 calories with virtually no fat; it's a good source of vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, and fiber; look for firm kernels that snap when you pinch them; the best way to cook corn to preserve the nutrients is to microwave it. Beth recommends against boiling it because both vitamin C and potassium are water-soluble so you can lose some of them in the water. She advises us to peel most of the husk off but leave a light layer of husk, put it in a pyrex dish or cover with plastic wrap and microwave for about 4 minutes – when it's the good silver queen corn, you don't need salt or butter – it tastes great as is!
Blueberries - Blueberries are in season and they're filled with fiber and antioxidants – particularly anthocyanins which may be potent disease fighters. Rinse them as you eat them to keep them from spoiling. Look for deep blue, large berries with a minimum of small, reddish berries – those are not ripe. If you go blueberry picking, you can freeze them! Don't wash them first or they may spoil more easily and may be tough. Wash them when you take them out to eat them. Spread them in a pan or cookie sheet. After they are frozen, put them in plastic baggies to enjoy all year ‘round!
MONEY TUESDAY - Most people wait until the April 15th tax-filing deadline is near and then rush around to gather their tax records and file their return which is both chaotic and stressful. Why not take a minute now to do a little planning and make next year's tax filing season so much easier? Here are your six best strategies:
1. Get organized. If you itemize deductions you need to keep meticulous records which can be a real pain in the neck. Most people save the receipts in a drawer or file with plans to sort it all out later. The problem is that it's hard to remember several months from now just what was the business purpose for a particular receipt. One simple solution is a free app called ShoeBoxed www.ShoeBoxed.com. This app not only allows organizing and categorizing of your business receipts and it will also allow you to track your business mileage…a real time saver at tax-filing time.
2. Monitor your itemized deductions. If you think you may fall near the line between filing the standard deduction or itemized deductions, you'll want to monitor the situation closely. For 2014, the standard deduction is $6,200 for single filers and twice that amount for joint filers. You may be able to create a greater tax benefit by either accelerating or postponing deductions such as charitable gifts; mortgage interest, or retirement plan contributions between the 2014 and 2015 tax years.
3. Double-check your withholdings. The typical goal we have for our clients is that they don't get what we call an ‘April 15th Surprise', meaning a big income tax bill they were not expecting nor do we want them to get a big income tax refund from the IRS. Now's a good time to review your current withholding to see if adjustments need to be made. You particularly want to go through this exercise if you've had significant events that might affect your tax status such as a divorce, birth of a child, taken on or paid off a mortgage. Use the IRS Withholding Calculator for a quick and easy review.
4. Review your quarterly estimates. If you are self-employed, you're responsible for filing quarterly tax estimates -April 15th, June 16th, September 15th, January 15th. This is a good time to see if you're on track for payments. In order to avoid a penalty, the IRS provides two ‘safe harbor' rules. You must either pay in 90% of your actual taxes due for 2014 or you must pay 100% of your 2013 taxes. For those of you expecting to earn more than $150,000, you must pay in 110% of your 2013 taxes.
5. Review your retirement plan contributions. At this mid-year point, do you find yourself in a position to up your contribution to your company 401k plan? Double-check to make certain you are not leaving any ‘free money' on the table in the form of company matching.
6. Monitor ‘personal use' of vacation rental property. Lots of people own a beach or mountain home that they rent out in order to help cover expenses. You'll want to keep good records regarding personal use if you want to maximize your deductions. In order to preserve the greatest tax benefits, you'll need to keep personal use to under 14 days or under 10% of actual days rented.
A little bit of effort now can save you lots of time and headaches come April 15th. For more information, visit www.welchgroup.com.
PET GRIEF SUPPORT - Dr. Larry Michael will be the facilitator for a series of pet grief support classes offered by Greater Birmingham Humane Society. Classes will begin Tuesday, July 17 and run for four consecutive Tuesdays from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Homewood Public Library. Group size is limited but registration is still open. The group was an Inspiration from the passing of my Randy Hays' Labrador Retriever Dixie. The last session is Tuesday, August 5. A fee of $25 is required for the four sessions and to register please contact Randy Hays at 205-542-7111 or Brenda Keith at 205-933-0790.
GARDENING - Sandra Reaves joins us to discuss your garden! She discusses pointers for gardening with a bad back or ailment that keeps you from getting down in the dirt. For more information, visit her Facebook page - it includes lots of pictures, tips, how to videos, and info on veggie trials going on in the garden. It's a "real time, real life" look at home gardening and food preservation. You can find her at www.Facebook.com/JosieGladysGardens.
NEW IN BOOKS - Susan Swagler writes about about books at her "Turn the Page" blog and in Birmingham Magazine. She introduced us some "Midsummer Mostly Fiction." These stories include short and longer, fiction and nonfiction adventure, something new from a Birmingham author and edgy essays from another Birmingham writer. She introduced us to
Acts of God by Ellen Gilchrist
The White Mary and Four Corners by Kira Salak
The Stories We Tell by Patti Callahan Henry
An Account of Nothing by George Cowgill
Tomorrow on Good Day Alabama, Rob Lowe is a busy man these days.... from acting to writing a book... and now worrying about how to take care of his aging parents. It's something we all deal with at some point in life and he tells us about his journey! Get ready for July 4th celebrations.... Jeh Jeh takes us out to Our Lady of Sorrows for the annual party! The doctor takes questions about your health! Mickey takes us to visit his friends at the Birmingham Zoo! Join us for this and much more tomorrow on Good Day Alabama.